The Ever-Changing Field of Engineering
by Kayla Hillegass
Engineering is a growing and ever-changing field of work full of problem solvers and go-getters. Yet everyone is not an engineer, which is why learning about a profession before jumping in headfirst is very important when making career choices. Taking part in engineering camps, engineer day events/activities, internships or other enrichment, allows students to learn more about the Engineering field and exposes them to this career more than an internet search could ever do. Some students might not have a close family member or friend that is in their field of interest, so these activities are great exposure to this career.
Everyone would benefit from some type of career exploration to help find their future path and to see how to keep on the road towards their preferred career. High school aged students make these important life decisions before graduation with many unsure or unprepared for life after high school. Exploration in college is an expensive way to decide their career path so internships before college gives students the opportunity to pursue their interests in different careers. Too often students change their major multiple times in college trying to decide what they want to do, costing them both time and money. Giving highschool students the opportunity to see job fields that interest them could help them decide if this is the field of study they want to explore in college.
Taking part in internships during college also helps further enhance the education experience and allows for translation from classroom to real world. Internships let employers impart their knowledge and experience onto a student in hopes that it can help the student decide what they want to do in their life (or not do). Even if the student determines that it is not the field for them, more often than not the people they interact with at a company might have connections or experiences in other fields of work. Networking is the key, so starting early and establishing interest in a field gives the students a chance to make connections with future employers and gives employers future potential employees. Having an early internship or job shadowing experience shows signs of maturity on the students' end to figure out their future career, which is an added bonus to employers especially for future internships or jobs.
Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. I felt that it was the best profession to help people because I did not want to go into the medical field at all. It wasn’t until I did a high school project on a future career that I took a step back and realized that maybe I didn’t want to be a teacher, after all. After some encouragement from my parents (and them pointing out very obvious skills that I had in logic, problem solving, math, and science), I did my project on environmental engineering. The school project kickstarted more career searching until I realized that environmental engineering is just a small subset of the future degree that I would be pursuing at the University of Akron: Civil Engineering. I attended some engineering career days and a women in engineering, weeklong summer camp during high school, which further solidified my desireto be a Civil Engineer. Now entering my senior year at UA, I look back on all my internships and early high school engineering activities and can clearly see how beneficial they were in helping me develop as a young engineer and in helping me decide what I want to look for in my future career. I highly encourage high schoolers to explore careers that interest them and learn more about what you want to do with their lives.
As I finish out my senior year and search for a full-time job, I know that my early engineering experiences and college internships have reinforced my career choice as a civil engineer.